This post is for those of you (us) that just enjoy a good lightsaber duel and the sporadic high-speed car chase through space. Here are 10 things you should know before you go watch Episode VII.
1. You don’t need to have seen any of the prequels.
The Star Wars franchise was rebooted once before in the late ’90s and early 2000s with three movies not a whole lot of people liked starring Hayden Christensen. Forget about those. You don’t really need them. Though watching them wouldn’t hurt. Samuel L. Jackson played Mace Windu (with his purple lightsaber), and there was this really cool villain named Darth Maul.
2. The Empire is gone. It was toppled by Ewoks.
The Force Awakens takes place after Return of the Jedi, which came out in 1983. A lot of stuff happened, but what you need to know is that The Empire – the all-powerful, fascist galactic government – was brought to its knees by these adorable, fuzzy little creatures called Ewoks, who were armed with slingshots at the Battle of Endor.
3. The bad guys in Force Awakens? Those guys are called the First Order.
The First Order is this political and military junta that came into power after the Battle of Endor, inspired by the principles of the Galactic Empire and hell-bent on controlling the galaxy. So basically The First Order is “The Empire: The Remix.” Their forces are led byKylo Ren, a mercenary that isn’t technically a Sith but looks awful Sith-like with his big, red, broadsword lightsaber and his matte black gas mask.
4. Even though Darth Vader is dead, Darth Vader still matters.
If you don’t know who Darth Vader is, you should know about him. Our new villain Kylo Ren also has a massive fixation on Vader, even though Vader was dead long before he was born. In the original Force Awakens trailer, Ren breathily says he’s going to finish what Vader started while ogling his melted helmet. In short, it’s going to be a thing.
Vader was The Empire’s attack dog, and the original trilogy’s biggest villain. He stood over seven feet and force-choked people a lot. He was also Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa’s father, and had a huge Come to Jesus moment right before his death. All of these things are going to be important.
5. You should also know about Luke Skywalker.
As Darth Vader was the original trilogy’s biggest villain, Luke Skywalker was its main protagonist.
Luke Skywalker was plucked off of this remote planet and trained up to become the most important Jedi ever. He traveled the galaxy, unknowingly made out with his sister, found out his greatest nemesis was also his father, and lost his right hand. One of the biggest rumors about Force Awakens is that Luke is the father of one of the main characters, Rey (Daisy Ridley). So be on the lookout for that.
6. If you want to fit in, you need to care about what happens with Leia and Han Solo.
The will-they-won’t-they-oh-they-did love story between Han Solo and Leia was the biggest of the original trilogy, but it looks like they might’ve broken up in the intervening time between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens.
If they did, that’s going to be a gut-punch to everyone else in the theater. You might not care, but just like hearing about your friend’s most-recent failed relationship for the millionth time, you’re going to have to at least act like it’s killing you too.
7. THE MILLENNIUM FALCON IS BACK.
This beloved, complete piece of crap from the original trilogy is back and flying through the sky, dodging Tie Fighters. It’s piloted by an older, more seasoned and less skeptical Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his still-large, still-furry friend Chewbacca. This one is just about impossible to explain if you haven’t seen the original movies, but it’s a big deal, I promise. It might also blow up though, so don’t get too attached.
8. You’re going to need to know what “The Force” is, obviously.
It’s in the title, and either Finn (John Boyega), Rey, or both are going to end up wielding it before the movie’s over, so you should know what The Force is. The complicated explanation is that in this alternate universe there are these microscopic beings within the cells of human beings called midichlorians. How many midichlorians you have in your blood stream determines your ability to use the Force. Having a high midichlorian count doesn’t necessarily make you any better than anyone else, but it kind of does, really. If you don’t have one – a high midichlorian count, that is – then you don’t get a lightsaber and can’t jump impossibly high or move stuff around without touching it.
9. This movie is going to be HUGE.
Force Awakens is expected to smash box office records. I’m talking $2 billion in projected worldwide box office sales. Add to that the obscene amount of money to be made off of merchandise, and we’re looking at $9.6 billion, according to Bloomberg.
10. But manage your expectations … or don’t.
Like most much-hyped movies, it’s a possibility that Force Awakens might not be all that good. I mean, it’s a small possibility, but it’s a possibility nonetheless. You can try to remember that if you want. Or you can not. Get dressed up, paint your face green, and line up to see it at midnight, if that’s your thing.